Friday, March 13, 2009

Anni's commitment to free speech under the spotlight

A week after President Anni announced his intention of turning the Maldives into a sanctuary for oppressed writers, his government has blocked a dissident website. The telecommunications authority has blocked the website on the order of the Islamic ministry. According to, the most reliable news service in the Maldives to my mind, the website was blocked a day after an audio clip by Foakaidhoo Imam Mohamed Shakeeb alleged that the state minister of Islamic affairs Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed had threatened him. 

Now, the permanent secretary of the ministry of communications Mohamed Latheef is accusing the telecommunications authority of not informing them of its decision.

He told "a websited can only be blocked after we have been informed and no website can be blocked for political reasons."

This will be an embarrassment for Anni, himself an erstwhile dissident writer, after the headline grabbing announcement he made to coincide with a visit to the Maldives by the UN freedom of expression rapporteur Frank La Rue.

Anni's response to the crisis will be a litmus test of how genuine his professed commitment to the freedom expression is. I'm highly skeptical. 

When Aishath Aniya, the then secretary-general of the MDP, was vilified by the party's religious right for writing an anti-buruga article, Anni didn't utter a word in public in her defense. There were even open calls for her death, but none of the MDP bigwigs protested. While Anni and Munavvaru, then the president of MDP, remained silent, Dhivehi Observer's Sappe ticked Aniya off in an open letter and called her to step down. 

Before the Maldives can become a safe haven for the dissidents of the world, it first needs to establish an environment for the freedom of expression of its own writers to flourish.

If Anni publicly apologised to Aishath Aniya and Mohamed Shakeeb and ordered the unbanning of, it would send a strong message to people like Shaheem and re-inspire Maldivians who once looked on the new president as a champion of free speech.

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Anonymous said...

What do you know, soon Shaheem will have the whole Maldivian blogosphere blocked because it contains mostly dissent voices afraid of speaking out and doing so anonymously:

Anonymous said...

they should try find a way to block the gays, child molesting gays, brain less atheist and haters etc...

Mohamed said...

i liked the fact the anon above said "child molesting gays" as if child molestation is a-ok if its hetro

shows how well morals work on a religious mind

Anonymous said...

"brain less atheist"

I guess the anony above and all other religious people really use their intelligent? What about all the stupid atrocities they commit against innocent people in the name of religion? Is that the work of "brainful religious" people?

Anonymous said...

When I first read the news about Anni offering asylum to writers, I laughed out loud. Let's see what he does now. I'm not at all optimistic.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't have even known about this Qunut fiasco and Shaheem's threats if it were not for this censorship. E meehun amilla akah beyzaaruvy.

Anon if you're going to block the haters, the first would be you. Homophobic idiot.

Minivan said...

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Anonymous said...

Listen to the interview here:

Anonymous said...

this is maddness, every one thinks that this life is given only for men... i am a woman, and i will never wear buruga till my death. i dont believe in religion or this islam that this land potrays, but i believe in god, and i was born on this land and this is where my god put me, and no law can take it away from me.

Anonymous said...

qunooth shaheem is a man who is always anti sunnah. he hate the people who is in sunnah. i know him personally.

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